Series win over England, IPL contract on Shepherd’s radar

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By Akeem Greene

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With two additional franchises joining the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL) there is a mega auction slated for February 12-13, and one of the many players hoping to hear the gavel hit after his name is Guyanese and West Indies all-rounder, Romario Shepherd.

The 27-year-old was pellucid in a virtual briefing on Monday that his immediate focus is helping West Indies win the five-match T20 International series, but an IPL contract is one he has been pondering on for quite some time.

On Sunday, he struck five sixes and one four in a 28-ball 44*, which along with Akeal Hosein’s 16-ball 44*, nearly brought West Indies the victory in Barbados. The pair added 72 in 29 balls in a record-breaking ninth-wicket partnership, but West Indies lost by just one run.

That brutal display of power-hitting, backed up by others in the Caribbean Premier League – 72* off 31 balls and 3-31 – or his maiden One-Day International fifty from 41 balls this month, has quietly enthused Shepherd that after three years of going unsold at the draft, it could be quite the opposite next month.

“It [IPL] is a great platform; it is a dream for any youngster to play in the IPL and I am no different. I am trying my best to get myself in there and at the same time win a series. It is something that I have been dreaming about for a very long time; my name was in the draft for the last three years, so, this year, I am looking forward to it,” he expounded.

After this series, West Indies head to India for three One-Day Internationals, the last of which is on the day before the auction, and then three T20Is.

Liam Dawson, Sam Billings and Adil Rashid console Akeal Hosein and Romario Shepherd, West Indies vs England, Second T20I, Kensington Oval, Barbados, January 23, 2022 (AFP via Getty Images)

But how does Shepherd keep the focus knowing another set of lusty blows or another solid death-bowling performance could enhance his credentials to be drafted?

“I try to focus on what is at hand right now and try to put my all in here and eventually if an IPL contract comes that would be great for me. Not saying that I don’t think about it, I do think about it but I try not to think about it during the game and focus on wherever the game is at and try to get ourselves out of that situation.”

He is part of 48 West Indian players who have placed their names in the pool, and his base price is INR 75 lakh (US$100,447 approximately).

Should Shepherd be drafted, he would join Ramnaresh Sarwan, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Christopher Barnwell, Shimron Hetmyer, Sherfane Rutherford and Keemo Paul on the list of Guyanese who have gained an IPL player’s contract.

For this auction, Hetmyer has a base price of INR 1.5 crore (approx. US$200,875), while Rutherford is INR 1 crore (approx. US$133,917).

Never say die

Shepherd and Akeal Hosein, who is more known for his accurate left-arm spin, joined forces with West Indies 98-8 in 15.1 overs in pursuit of 171 with Sheldon Cottrell being the only man to come.

But they were fearless as ever in their ruthless assault on the English, which brought them to the doors of victory.

“You have to find that fire within yourself to know you cannot give up until the last ball is bowled, and I told Fabian [Allen] and Odean [Smith] that, but they eventually got out. When Akeal came, I told him the same thing, we can do this, it is cricket, so, we need to just keep getting the boundaries.”

While the indifferent boundary sizes for the second match at the Kensington Oval created problems for some players, Shepherd had them pounding into the stands, another demonstration of his immense power.

“It played with your mind to see one side is very short and one side is very long and eventually when [Chris] Jordan came in that over I had no choice to try and take on the long boundary, but I know as long as I hit them well, the boundary does not matter,” he confidently expressed.

The series is level 1-1. The third match is on Wednesday from 16:00h.

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